BARKS from the Guild Autumn 2014

Page 36

TRENDS

The Miracle Mutt

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A twist of fate can have surprising results. From stray pup, to prison inmate favorite, to first aid and therapy dog... Gail Radtke relates the inspiring tale of Lanie and her stellar work in prisons, care homes and hospitals

hanging Lanie arrived at your career the prison’s dog in your 40s boarding and is nerve-wracking at training facility with her mom the best of times and two siblings but I was lucky enough to have a very special friend to inspire and guide me towards following my passion. That special someone was Lanie, a Shar-Pei-ChowMalamute-shepherd-mix girl who completely changed my life. Up until 2007 I had had a rewarding career at British Columbia Provincial Corrections in the Greater Vancouver area as a Correctional Supervisor and Instructor but then a car accident left me with injuries that would change my ability to carry out my duties. Following the accident, it would take a few years for me to re-educate myself, heal my body and, eventually, follow Lanie’s lead as she guided me into stepping out of my comfort zone. My husband works at Fraser Valley Institution for Women (FVI) in Abbotsford, BC, which operates a full service Dog Boarding and Training Center run by Jayne Nelson of the Langley Animal Protection Society (LAPS). The program houses dogs who have been surrendered or rescued by LAPS and provides care, training, grooming and the rehabilitation of “special needs” dogs to help them find new homes, as well as being dedicated to improving the lives of stray and unwanted dogs. It also provides daycare and boarding for dogs belonging to members of the local community and staff members with proceeds going to the non-profit LAPS. In March 2010 I received an email from my husband which included a photo of a mixed-breed pup. Her 36

BARKS from the Guild/October 2014

mother was apparently a rescue who had given birth at the LAPS facility and then been transferred to FVI with her three pups. My husband was keen to adopt her but I wasn’t sure I wanted to experience the puppy phase again, not to mention that we already had two older dogs at home. My husband, however, couldn’t stop talking about how smart she was, so I made arrangements to go into the prison to meet her. It was obvious she had been receiving the best of care and attention while in the K9 program at the prison. She was healthy, social and could already perform quite a few obedience commands and tricks at her young age. No doubt my husband knew that meeting Lanie in person would result in her coming home with us, which of course it did, when she was three months old. As I continued on my road to recovery, I learned to allow Lanie to guide me into trying new things. So, when she was a year old, I applied to the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program in Maple Ridge, BC. This is a Canada-wide program that involves certified handlers and dogs volunteering their time to visit hospitals and senior care homes in their area. It also includes a children’s reading program which is assisted by a St. John Therapy Dog and another team of volunteers who are on call with Ridge Meadows Royal Canadian Mounted Police Victim Services. The St. John Ambulance program requires dogs to undergo a behavioral assessment test which mimics real